Powerlifting Competition

 

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I won with a total of 1,255 pounds

I normally do not concern myself with powerlifting. At least not to the extent of caring what my max lifts are, so it was a bit surprising that I even decided to enter a competition. I had spent some time scoping out the competition in the 2 gyms that are on this base… which is typical of a new alpha personality showing up to a new gym anywhere.

I have a torn pectoral muscle that I suffered in 2009 while stationed in Korea. I never had it repaired. It seriously effects my bench press, mostly because I have been reluctant to perform the lift since the injury took place. I only recently started benching again.

I didn’t know who my competition was going to be, but I knew that my squat and deadlift would allow me to makeup the ground I would lose with my bench. I calculated correctly. Unfortunately, I shortchanged myself on the squat and deadlift. I probably should’ve finished with an attempt around 575 pounds on squat.

Deadlift was a bit a wildcard. I figured I would be able to pull a lot of weight… but I haven’t performed the lift in close to 10 years. Turns out, I shortchanged myself on that as well. Oh well, now I know for next time.

-tHb

Afghanistan Entry 1.2: The Fridge

I responded to a classified regarding a mini fridge. It was listed for free, so I jumped on it immediately. A cold drink is a commodity during deployment so you can imagine the joy I felt at the thought of having an entire refrigerator of energy drinks and water at my disposal.

I meet the civilian lady on the other side of base to get the fridge. She is leaving country due to her contract ending and seems eager to get rid of it. We exchange pleasantries and I start the long walk to my barracks room with this mini fridge in tow. Now, mind you I still have to carry my M-4 assault rifle along with me. Needless to say, it made for an awkward trek across the base. I didn’t care because the idea of an endless flow of cold beverages was well worth it.

I finally get the fridge to my room. I do some minor rearranging of my high class, expensive, hand made furniture (refer to ‘Room: Stage 1’ photos) to find a spot for it. As it turned out, the fridge fit PERFECTLY next to my bunk and table. I reroute the power cords and plug it in. I set the cold level to somewhere in the middle and leave to finish my day at work.

After my shift ends, I stop at the shoppette to buy an entire case of sugar free Monster energy drinks that I plan to put in the fridge… especially since it should be nice and chilled by this time.

I  start to unload the monsters into the fridge and discover the inside is not cold at all. What the hell? I fiddle around with the cords to verify everything is plugged in. Naturally, I have absolutely no fuckin clue how to troubleshoot a refrigerator. Im disappointed but optimistic I can find a resolution.

The next day I ask around if someone knows how to fix a refrigerator. One civilian responds to my inquiry with, “is it a white, Daewoo, fridge with a Camouflage Bodybuilding.com sticker on the front door?”

Amazed, I ask, “How the hell did you know that?”.

He then dropped the bomb on me.

“Oh shit, I had that same fridge like 5 years ago. It barely worked when I had it. Ever since then, that fridge been gettin passed around the base to the next person to experience the same heartbreak you did. We can’t get rid of it because of the freon in it, so we just try to offload it on the next guy so we can get our rooms cleared to leave and go home.”

… great.

 

-tHb

Afghanistan Interaction 1.2: The Jeweler

A conversation with local jewelry store owner

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Him: Sergeant, you need Diamond ring? I give you good deal?
Me: No thanks.
Him: You have wife Sergeant?
Me: Yeah.
Him: You know what American Soldier say?
Me: What’s that?
Him: you know happy wife, a happy life. Your wife need diamond.
Me: My wife needs a lobotomy, not a diamond.
Him: What is that?
Me: It means she needs her brain examined.
Him: You do that to your wife?
(It wasn’t until after I left that I hoped he didn’t go back to his village and try to give his wife a lobotomy)

-tHb

Afghanistan Entry 1.1: The Misery

In a place like Afghanistan, things have the ability to transition from good to horrible in the blink of an eye. In regards to the resiliency of the American Soldier, I have never been worried. I think that, more than anything, the difference between Soldiers and society isn’t their ability to endure extreme amounts of adversity, but rather their propensity to endure it. In fact, many conversations amongst us result in a contest over who has had worse. It’s a weird dynamic between having something to both complain and brag about.

Example: (during the worst) “Man, this sucks. I hate the Army. I haven’t showered in a month”. (during the contest) “Man, we were WAY more hardcore than you guys! We were out in the village for a month, sleeping in the dirt with no water. You couldn’t hang, you don’t know what hardcore is”.
It’s funny because all of us are well aware of how these conversations transform, yet we still participate in them routinely. Sometimes I think the Soldier would be most miserable if he DID NOT have something to complain about. HAHA!

-tHb

Afghanistan Interaction 1.1: The Seamster

A conversation with a local who makes custom patches and sews.
Me: Hey man, can you repair torn uniforms?
Him: Yes Sergeant. What is broken on uniform?
Me: I ripped a hole in my pants. Need them sewed up.
Him: I have time now. You take pants off and I fix now!
Me: What? Right here? How much?
Him: Yea, right now. Take pants off and I charge you 5 dollar.
Me: Hey dude, if I’m taking my pants off in your store, you gotta pay me 5 dollars.
(I did not derobe in his shop. I just brought the pants to him the next day)

Afghanistan Interaction 1.0: The Tailor

I am getting to know the locals at the Bazaar shops. I was having a conversation the other day with one of them. It went as follows:
Him: How is your family?
Me: Great! The kids are driving their mother crazy.
Him: Oh yea? And that is good thing?
Me: Well, it isn’t good for her. It’s just good that I’m not there for it!
Him: Hahaha! That funny! I was just got married 2 weeks ago.
Me: Oh really? Congrats! Is she from Jalalabad?
Him: Yes. She my cousin!
Me: … How much is this chess set?
Another conversation in this guy’s rug store went like this:
Him: Where you live in America?
Me: I live in Montana.
Him: Oh, Montana very big city! Very beautiful city!
Me: No man, Montana has more cows than people.
Him: Really?
Me: Yea man. Tons of farms and animals. Like Nuristan.
Him: Montana have goats?
Me: Hell yeah we do.
Him: Sergeant, we get married and you take me to Montana!
Me: … How much is this rug?

Afghanistan Entry 1.0: The Intro

Month 1/9

I’ve been here before. In 2012. Afghanistan has a funny way of laying tricks on you. When you look at the landscapes from afar, they’re beautiful. The Hindu Kush Mountains, which are at the souther tip of the Himalaya’s, are incredible to look. However, it seems that wherever you travel, you’re surrounded with this dirt that resembles a static like moon dust. It floats and dances in the air and sticks to your clothes. Our role and the activity has died down significantly since then. You can definitely tell that our role has transitioned from “full spectrum operations” to “let’s start getting the fuck outta here”. While the tempo has declined, the atmosphere is real, make no mistake. A Soldier was killed a few days ago with an interpreter by an insurgent posing as a local national who was employed on the base. The mortar rounds and rockets still get lobbed and launched over the walls. While not as volatile as my last trip, they are still threats. My room is situated in a good spot. I am close to the shops, close to the gym, close to the chow hall and close to work. And every morning I walk out my front door and take a big, deep breath of the fresh Afghanistan air. NOTHING is more refreshing than engulfing the smell of diesel fuel and smoke from the nearby burn pit. In regards to continuation of these posts; I know people are interested in this experience for many reasons and I love being the arbiter of that experience. In my entries, I will do my best to portray a comedic approach for a couple reasons;

1) From the Soldier’s perspective, humor is the remedy to many of our issues. It’s a sentiment of relief.

2) Comedy often reminds us that things aren’t quite as bad as they seem and resonate positivity over negative outlooks. The last thing I want to do is paint a picture to those whom support us at home of misery, despair and squalor.